Pro-life groups angered by Trump's 'states' rights' position on abortion, begin to shift allegiance to Florida Gov. DeSantis

April 25, 2023
Ben Marquis

Former President Donald Trump was previously heralded as the most pro-life president in U.S. history thanks in part to his judicial nominees that led to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and allowed for Republican-led states to pass legislation to restrict abortion procedures.

That appears to have changed, however, as some of the same pro-life groups that once praised Trump now look to have shifted allegiance to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who recently signed a six-week ban into law, ahead of a presumptive 2024 presidential run, the Washington Examiner reported.

Trump says abortion is a "state-level" issue

The increasingly apparent shift appears to have begun in the aftermath of the 2022 midterm elections, which former President Trump asserted was worse than expected for Republicans due to the "abortion issue," including the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision and how some GOP candidates pushed strict bans with no exceptions.

That was compounded last week following a lengthy article from The Washington Post that detailed a growing rift among some in the Republican Party with regard to whether abortion restrictions should be left for individual states or the federal government to decide, as well as where the line should be drawn in terms of when during pregnancy the procedure should be banned.

"President Donald J. Trump believes that the Supreme Court, led by the three Justices which he supported, got it right when they ruled this is an issue that should be decided at the State level," Steven Cheung, a spokesman for Trump's campaign, told The Post.

"Republicans have been trying to get this done for 50 years, but were unable to do so. President Trump, who is considered the most pro-life President in history, got it done," the spokesman added. "He will continue these policies when reelected to the White House. Like President Reagan before him, President Trump supports exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother."

Pro-life outrage over Trump stance on states' rights and abortion

That statement did not go over well with Lila Rose of the pro-life Live Action organization, who tweeted in response to the article, "Donald Trump has DISQUALIFIED himself from the nomination of our nation's pro-life political party by calling the human right to life merely a 'state-level' issue," and added, "Every human person is guaranteed due process and equal protection. The next Republican president must be willing to take bold action to protect women and children."

Nor was the Trump statement deemed acceptable by Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America organization, who said in a statement, "President Trump’s assertion that the Supreme Court returned the issue of abortion solely to the states is a completely inaccurate reading of the Dobbs decision and is a morally indefensible position for a self-proclaimed pro-life presidential candidate to hold."

"Life is a matter of human rights, not states’ rights," she continued. "Saying that the issue should only be decided at the states is an endorsement of abortion up until the moment of birth, even brutal late-term abortions in states like California, Illinois, New York and New Jersey. The only way to save these children is through federal protections, such as a 15-week federal minimum standard when the unborn child can feel excruciating pain."

"We will oppose any presidential candidate who refuses to embrace at a minimum a 15-week national standard to stop painful late-term abortions while allowing states to enact further protections," Dannenfelser added with regard to her organization.

The Examiner further noted that just one week prior to the fallout over the Trump statement in The Post's article, Dannenfelser had issued a press release that praised Gov. DeSantis for signing a six-week abortion ban into law less than a year after he had signed a 15-week ban into law.

The outlet also noted that a spokesperson for the pro-DeSantis super PAC known as Never Back Down, Erin Perrine, told the Examiner, "Donald Trump has turned his back on the pro-life community. He blamed the political losses of candidates he endorsed in the 2022 midterms on the pro-life movement, and now, he is backing down from saving unborn children's lives."

Trump campaign stands behind prior statement

All of that was dismissed by a spokesperson for the Trump campaign, however, who told the Examiner, "Our focus here should be on saving lives and avoiding the Radical Left’s traps, not on dividing the pro-life community. The Radical Left, which includes late-term abortion advocates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, is the only beneficiary when this happens."

"Thanks to the Supreme Court's recent decision, the States have now been empowered to take up the issue," the spokesperson added. "Even though much work remains to be done to defend the cause of life, President Trump believes it is in the States where the greatest advances can now take place to protect the unborn."

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